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Prom dresses have been traded in for gowns and diplomas: High school's over. Now many graduates feel like they've got the world on their shoulders, and only four months to prepare for the next chapter of their lives. 

Over 70 per cent of high school graduates transition to some form of higher education right after graduating, according to a 2008 Statistics Canada study. However, the thought of moving from the hallways to the quad isn't something everyone wants to rush into.

Here are three reasons taking a gap year could be right for you. 

1. You need time to get your act together

In June you were just another kid sitting in class, raising your hand to go to the bathroom. Now you're thrown into adult life'apparently taxes are a thing, mom can't make doctors appointments for you anymore, and you have to figure out how to work a washing machine. On top of that, you're expected to juggle a full course load and possibly uproot your whole life to move to university. It comes as no surprise some people find this overwhelming.

Transitioning from high school graduation directly to post-secondary school leaves students with only four months to prepare for the challenges of college or university life. Talk to a teenager and chances are they're not mature enough to handle the real world. Four months doesn't seem like enough time for everyone to get themselves ready for this next stage of their lives.

But after a year is a different story. In Europe, a gap year after high school is a rite of passage; students have the chance to travel, spend time at home, and really learn about who they are and develop their independence. In the long-run, a year off will give you time to learn how to function on your own before you jump back into your studies.

2. You need time to determine a career path

Sometimes it takes me an hour to decide between pizza or Chinese food for dinner. How can anyone be expected to choose the career path that will shape the rest of their life after only living a small portion of it?

Taking time off from school really gives people perspective on what matters to them most when they don't have a pile of books to wade through every day. In Canada, students are in school consecutively from the age of four all the way to grade 12.

For some, one year without the responsibility of school is a much-needed break to clear the mind. This will be the time to determine whether your dream to become an astronaut is still the path you really want to go towards.

3. You need time to organize your finances

According to Statistics Canada, undergraduate students paid an average of almost $6,000 in tuition fees in 2014. That's a lot of money to be forking over year after year, especially if you don't have it. Students could apply for OSAP, or they could spend a year working to save up enough to be less in debt.

It's easy to feel left behind when everyone you know is moving on to higher education. But it's better to make the right choice and feel a little left out, than make the wrong choice and regret wasting your time, effort, and money. So consider taking a year off'travel, work, get to know yourself better. An education is always an option, regardless of age.

Photos: ismagilov/Thinkstock